Subj: Y2k update: Tenn nuke weapons plant
Date: 1/4/00 12:58:33 PM Pacific Standard Time

Jan 4, 2000 - 02:14 AM

Nuclear Weapons Plant Has Brief Y2K Glitch
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officials say a Y2K-related computer malfunction at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee caused no operational problems and was corrected within hours.

John Gilligan, the DOE's top computer expert, said Monday the problem involved a computer that tracks nuclear material as to its weight and type. He said the actual accounting of material was not affected.

Officials at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory initially declined to provide details of the malfunction, first reported Sunday, because it involved classified activities.

Gilligan said the Oak Ridge incident was the only Y2K problem affecting "mission critical" systems at Energy Department facilities nationwide during the New Year's rollover, although there were "about a dozen" minor glitches.

All of the failures "tended to be minor and easily fixed," he told reporters. He said there are about 200,000 computer systems at DOE facilities, including the three weapons labs. The Oak Ridge facility has 260 systems.

The Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge makes warhead components for the MX missile system and is the primary uranium storage site for the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Monday the $5 billion spent on Y2K in the energy sector was well worth it and will pay dividends that will reduce the likelihood of future power outages or oil disruptions.

He said the Energy Department spent about $235 million on Y2K including computer fixes at its nuclear weapons facilities and research labs.

Subj: UPDATE: Oregon Chem Weapons Depot
Date: 1/4/00 2:19:56 PM Pacific Standard Time

The Associated Press
1/3/00 9:33 PM

HERMISTON, Ore. (AP) -- State and county officials are arguing over what
triggered false warnings of a chemical weapons leak at the Umatilla Chemical

Sirens wailed last Thursday near the depot and message boards along
Interstate 84 warned motorists to exit the freeway because of an incident

But there had been no leak.

Oregon Emergency Management officials said Monday the alarm was triggered
when a county employee tried to activate highway reader boards near Boardman
to warn motorists of dense fog and ice.

"We have an electronic record of what happened," said agency spokesman Tom
Worden. "We know where that button was activated."

But Casey Beard, director of the Morrow County Chemical Stockpile Emergency
Preparedness Program, said the dispatcher did not press the wrong button.

"It was not operator error," he said. "I have the utmost confidence in her."

During the Thursday scare, some speakers set up around the depot broadcast
warnings in Spanish that there had been an accident. But the speakers also
broadcast messages in English that it was just a test.

Sirens also blared out a sustained wail.

Depot officials quickly found that no chemical accident had occurred.

But at a community meeting in Hermiston on Friday, many residents said it
took much too long to get the message out.

It took up to 30 minutes for announcements to be made over local radio
stations that the alarm was a malfunction.

Beard said he used a direct phone line to alert radio stations, police
departments and other emergency officials that the sirens were a false

The confused messages coming over the speakers were due to the fact that new
voice chips are still being added to the warning system, officials said.

"When some of the sirens went off, the verbal announcements were mixed up
because all the new voice chips haven't been installed yet," said Larry
Ross, a technician with Oregon Emergency Management.

The agency is in the midst of installing new computer chips with the voice
alarm recordings.

"I didn't' get the chips out and we got caught with our pants down," he

The state emergency agency will finish installing the computer chips with
new voice recordings by the end of the month, Worden said.

Morrow County officials said they are working on a new communication system
that will bring 18,000 radios to all houses and businesses near the chemical
depot. About half of the radios could be in place by this summer, Beard

On Saturday, a trace amount of the nerve gas Sarin was detected leaking from
a chemical weapon stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, but officials said
there was no danger to the public.

About 650 of the 1,100 construction workers at the facility's incinerator
project walked off the job Monday, concerned about how details of Saturday's
leak were handled. All workers were expected to be back on the job Tuesday.

Thousands of tons of nerve agents and other chemical weapons are stored at
the depot near Hermiston. They are to be destroyed as soon as construction
is completed on an incinerator.

Subj: Flash: Chemical accidents
Date: 1/6/00 1:33:42 PM Pacific Standard Time

Waiting for updates on the following stories posted at Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) at

FLORIDA - city of Davey - Reddy Ice Co. Plant. United States Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board Report: Anhydrous Ammonia Leak at Ice Plant; Nearby Resident Dies, Eight Workers Exposed, 1/5/2000 Incident at 1:57 AM

PA - Fire Destroys Chemical Plant Firefighters Unsure of Chemicals Involved, Upper Darby, PA, United States 1/5/2000

OHIO - Columbus Ohio, Hundreds Evacuate VA Medical Clinic, Seven Taken to Hospital Due to Carbon Monoxide Leak

CA - Thermostat Apparently Malfunctions at Gold-Plating Facility; Fire, Evacuation Result Diamond Springs, CA, United States 1/2/2000- 9:00 AM. The fire at Celebrities, Incorporated apparently started because a thermostat controlling the temperature of a chemical tank malfunctioned early yesterday (1/2/2000) morning, causing the solution to overheat and ignite.

Subj: Update - Chemical accidents
Date: 1/6/00 2:20:50 PM Pacific Standard Time

A rash of them, Kent....

FLORIDA - city of Davey - Reddy Ice Co. Plant. United States Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board Report: Anhydrous Ammonia Leak at Ice Plant; Nearby Resident Dies, Eight Workers Exposed, 1/5/2000 Incident at 1:57 AM----- The anhydrous ammonia leak was observed off-site in a small residential area near the plant. The victim was an elderly resident with a history of heart and respiratory problems. Six workers complained of burns and rashes, were decontaminated on scene and decline transport to the hospital. Two workers had respiratory distress and were transported to Pembrook-Hollywood regional medical center. An employee tried to call 911 from inside the plant on the way out of the facility, but had to drop the phone. When employees opened the door, a cloud surrounded the whole building.

When the first emergency units arrived on scene no cloud was visible, but a strong odor was reported. Because the initial units did not have Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs) the units retreated to a safe distance. Hazmat units with Level A protection subsequently entered the area. The victim was evacuating his residence with family members when he collapsed on the street. The release is believed to have come from a pressure relief valve. Most of the employees were reported to be Haitians, and spoke only limited English. Emergency responders did not speak Haitian. This information is based on preliminary reports and is subject to verification and change. -- National Response Center Emergency Management - State Florida Emergency Mgmt., Tallahassee Fire Marshal - Local Fire Battalion 38, Broward County 1-5-2000 Law Enforcement - Local Police Davey PD, 1-5-2000 . Story at

OHIO, COLUMBUS - (CSB) Hundreds Evacuate VA Medical Clinic, Seven Taken to Hospital Due to Carbon Monoxide Leak, date of incident 1/5/2000- 3:00 PM. No CSB Action 1/6/2000 - 1:20 AM Release to Environment. Fixed Facility Evacuations 370 (Estimate). Injuries 7 (Estimate). Fatalities None Reported. Chemicals Involved - Carbon Monoxide. Information added: Thursday, January 6, 2000 - 1:35 AM: About 100 patients and 270 employees at a Veterans Administration outpatient clinic were evacuated Wednesday (Jan. 5, 2000) because of a carbon monoxide leak. Seven people were taken to hospitals, including one person who had a seizure in the clinic's parking lot during the evacuation, said Deputy Fire Chief Karry Ellis. Four employees of the clinic, including one man who fainted from inhaling the carbon monoxide, were treated at Ohio State University Medical Center and released, said hospital spokesman Bob Fitzsimmons. Three were treated for flu-like symptoms. The man had to be placed in a hyperbaric chamber, where he received a high concentration of oxygen to flush the carbon monoxide from his system, Fitzsimmons said. The other three people were treated and released from Ohio State University Hospitals East, a nursing supervisor said. A fourth person was admitted to the hospital, but was being treated for an ailment not related to the carbon monoxide, the nursing supervisor said. She did not know if the people treated were patients or employees of the clinic.

Firefighters found extremely high levels of carbon monoxide inside the Chalmers P. Wylie Veterans Administration Clinic and evacuated the building on the city's east side just after 3 p.m. They contained the leak about one hour later, and the building was closed while officials looked for a cause. Ellis said the cause was likely a mechanical problem with one of the furnaces. A vent designed to pump the carbon monoxide from the building could have been sending the colorless, odorless gas back in. ``Until they find out exactly what caused the carbon monoxide leak, they don't want to take a chance of having any more problems there,'' he said. -- Associated Press, 01-06-00 0031EST

CALIFORNIA, DIAMOND SPRINGS - Thermostat Apparently Malfunctions at Gold-Plating Facility; Fire, Evacuation Result. 1/2/2000- 9:00 AM. The fire at Celebrities, Incorporated apparently started because a thermostat controlling the temperature of a chemical tank malfunctioned early yesterday (1/2/2000) morning, causing the solution to overheat and ignite. Because of the hazardous materials in the warehouse, fire officials evacuated about a dozen nearby homes and closed a nearby road for about a mile in each direction. The three injured were firefighters who suffered respiratory aggravation while fighting the fire. They were treated and released from a nearby hospital. -- Associated Press, 01-03-2000 0027PST html
PENNSYLVANIA, UPPER DARBY - AM Fire Destroys Chemical Plant. Firefighters unsure of chemicals involved, 1/5/2000, CSB Incident. Date of report update 1/6/2000 - 1:40 AM. A dozen families were displaced and got shelter from the American Red Cross after a chemical plant was destroyed by fire. No major injuries were reported. There were 35 to 40 people in the 12 families that were accepting aid in the form of food, motel vouchers and clothing vouchers as a result of Tuesday night's fire.

The flames consumed the walls of the Advanced Chemicals Inc. building, leaving only the steel frame behind. Even as the flames burned down, firefighters worried about what chemicals might be contained in smoke billowing from the factory and also worried about the structure collapsing. The prevailing wind blew most of the smoke away from a nearby residential area, but a block of houses next to the burning building was evacuated anyway. Firefighters set up temporary shelter for the residents at the borough hall and a nearby church. All workers inside the factory at the time made it out safely, firefighters said. Fire officials said some firefighters received minor injuries and they were also worried about the possibility of the building collapsing.

Firefighters were uncertain what Advance Chemicals made at the site, saying that all they knew was that the company worked with powder-based chemicals. Officials planned to meet with the company's owners and call up air sampling crews. Early on, firefighters said they were hampered by low water pressure, but they seemed to gain the upper hand as the fire ran out of material to burn. Some neighbors said they heard a blast and came out of their homes to see the building on fire. Firefighters said a propane tank in a forklift in the plant may have caught fire, setting off the blaze. -- Associated Press * 01-05-2000 0434EST

ARIZONA, WHITEHALL - Worker Suffers Serious Burns from White Phosphorus Handling Accident at Army Arsenal, 1/2/2000. Information Added: Sunday, January 2, 2000 - 8:54 PM. A worker moving dangerous white phosphorous from a storage tank at the Pine Bluff Arsenal suffered serious burns on about a third of his body Sunday, the arsenal said. Rickey D. Myers, a 16-year arsenal employee, suffered second- and isolated third-degree burns and was in serious condition Sunday evening at the burn unit at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, the arsenal said. ``With burns this severe, his condition could possibly change dramatically within the next 24 hours,'' said Dr. Kurt Davis, assigned to the arsenal. The arsenal holds 12 percent of the nation's chemical weapon stockpile. Myers and two other workers were transfering the phosphorous from a storage tank to another vessel in preparation for a routine piece of work Monday, an arsenal statement said. Myers was the only worker hurt.
An initial investigation showed possible mechanical failure. White phosphorous is used to produce white smoke that the military uses to obscure operations. It ignites when in contact with oxygen.

``My prayers and sympathy are with Mr. Myers and his family,'' arsenal Cmdr. Steven T. Chapman said. ``The man is one of our most experienced employees in working with white phosphorous. ``We will do everything possible to find out exactly what caused the accident so it doesn't occur again,'' Chapman said. Other items stored at the arsenal include nerve gases GB and VX and two varieties of mustard gas, H and HD. Nerve gas blocks nerve signals to muscles, and mustard gas damages body tissue. -- Associated Press, 01-02-00 1853EST